New in the collection: Carolina Biological Supply blotter

Ink blotter with words Carolina cultures and showing images of microscopic organisms

“While teaching at Elon and working towards the doctorate at Duke, Powell perceived the need for a biological supply house that could provide schools and colleges with their laboratory specimens. At the time, only two other businesses in the United States supplied specimens for classroom use — teachers were expected to collect their own protozoan, frogs, and animal skeletons.

“Powell began his business on a part-time basis in 1927 in a woodshed beside a pond at Elon College. Nine years later he resigned his teaching position to devote full time to management of the growing company.”

— From Thomas Edward Powell Jr.’s entry (1994)  by George W. Troxler in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography

This ink blotter promotes the company as “a dependable culture service.”

Damien Hirst window-shopped at Carolina Biological

“In 1992, [Damien] Hirst moved to New York, where he met John LeKay, a 31-year-old British artist….

“Hirst mentioned that he was looking for a source of butterflies, and LeKay gave him a spare copy of the Carolina Biological Supply Co. Science catalogue, which he had been using as a source of ideas. They reached an agreement, said LeKay: ‘I put yellow stickers on the pages with the skeletons, skulls, mannequins and resuscitation dolls I was working on. He said he would stick to the animals and I would do the humans and he was very happy.’….

“LeKay’s gift of the catalogue manifested as a dramatic development in Hirst’s oeuvre within a few months. One of the items illustrated was a model cow bisected lengthways. In the 1993 Venice Bienniale, Hirst exhibited Mother and Child Divided, a cow and a calf bisected lengthways….

“Another Hirst exhibit was This Little Piggy Went to Market, a pig split in two lengthways (in vitrines of formaldehyde). One of the pictures in the Carolina Science catalogue was an anatomical model of a pig split in two lengthways….”
— From “The Art Damien Hirst stole” by Charles Thomson at 3:AM magazine (Sept. 14, 2010)

Carolina Biological Supply, founded in Burlington in 1927, immodestly but inarguably bills itself as “truly one of the most extraordinary companies in the world.” Among its nonscientific distinctions: capturing the plum web address

h/t David Perry